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There’s Really Never Been An NFL Dynasty Like The Patriots

There’s Really Never Been An NFL Dynasty Like The Patriots

The New England Patriots are again in yet one more Tremendous Bowl — No. 9 since 2001, for these retaining monitor — and this time they’re the favourite to beat the Los Angeles Rams, based on each Las Vegas and our Elo mannequin. Tom Brady, Invoice Belichick and pals have been doing this type of factor for therefore lengthy that typically it’s straightforward to take their greatness as a right. However with one other championship probably looming, we thought we’d zoom out and take inventory of simply how unimaginable New England’s success has truly been. As a result of, love or hate the Patriots, we’ve by no means seen something like what they’ve completed over the higher a part of the previous 20 years.

New England has loved a number of the most dominant seasons of all time.

Let’s begin on the single-season degree. To grade a staff’s Elo dominance, we like to make use of a mix of its remaining end-of-season score, its peak score and its season-long common score. Based on that metric, the Patriots personal a variety of the best groups of the Tremendous Bowl period (since 1966) — together with each the best group to win a Tremendous Bowl (in 2004) and the best group to not win a Tremendous Bowl (in 2007).

One of the best single-season groups of the Tremendous Bowl period

NFL groups ranked by a mix of their ultimate, peak and season-long common Elo scores, since 1966

Tremendous Bowl winners Didn’t win Tremendous Bowl
Workforce Yr Elo Mix Staff Yr Elo Mix
1 New England 2004 1792 1 New England 2007 1824
2 Denver 1998 1771 2 Baltimore 1968 1766
Three San Francisco 1989 1770 Three Washington 1983 1762
four Miami 1973 1767 four Inexperienced Bay 1997 1758
5 Chicago 1985 1767 5 Seattle 2014 1749
6 Dallas 1993 1765 6 Inexperienced Bay 2011 1748
7 Pittsburgh 1975 1760 7 Indianapolis 2005 1742
eight San Francisco 1984 1759 eight San Francisco 1990 1742
9 Washington 1991 1756 9 Indianapolis 2007 1737
10 Miami 1972 1754 10 New England 2011 1734


Regardless of their loss to the New York Giants in one of the crucial thrilling Tremendous Bowls ever, the 2007 Pats, who went 16-Zero within the common season, stay the highest-rated workforce in NFL historical past — along with being some of the gifted and influential groups ever assembled. And in contrast to that 2007 squad, the 2004 Patriots completed the job and capped off a 17-2 season with a Tremendous Bowl crown, in a marketing campaign that contained a part of an NFL-record 21-game profitable streak.

This yr’s Pats aren’t in that dialog. However the 2016 model was the 16th-best group to win a Tremendous Bowl, based on Elo, and the 2017 model that misplaced to the Eagles final February ranks because the 14th-best nonwinner of the Tremendous Bowl period.

The Pats’ dynasty is probably the most spectacular of the Tremendous Bowl period (based on Elo).

Typically it’s troublesome to pin down when a dynasty begins and ends, however a method to take a look at it’s to seek out the stretch of seasons that might be probably the most troublesome for a generic contender to duplicate. (We additionally did this for the NBA final summer time when wanting on the Golden State Warriors’ place in historical past.)

To try this for any given franchise, we take the single-season blended scores from above and calculate their harmonic imply over each attainable span of seasons. (The harmonic imply is a particular type of common that rewards excessive marks throughout each worth in a set — on this case, elevating groups that have been persistently nice.) Then we examine that quantity to what a staff with an preliminary Elo score of 1617 can be anticipated to have over the identical variety of seasons. Because it turns into progressively more durable to take care of a excessive imply Elo as extra seasons cross, this helps stability brief bursts of greatness towards longer, extra sustained durations of dominance.

Probably the most spectacular dynasties are those that exceed expectations probably the most. And after filtering for groups that gained at the very least two Tremendous Bowls in a given span (plus tossing out duplicate overlapping stretches for a similar franchise), the NFL’s greatest stretch of seasons belongs to the Patriots since 2003 — probably together with this yr, in the event that they beat the Rams. (And if not, then the stretch from 2003 by means of 2017.)

The Tremendous Bowl period’s most spectacular dynasties

Amongst franchises with at the least two Tremendous Bowl titles, probably the most spectacular (nonoverlapping) spans of seasons, in response to Elo scores, since 1966

Workforce Span Seasons Titles Imply Elo vs. Anticipated
New England* 2003-18 16 5? 1711 +169.four
1 New England 2003-17 15 four 1714 +169.eight
2 San Francisco 1984-95 12 four 1706 +155.1
Three Dallas 1992-95 four Three 1740 +150.7
four Pittsburgh 1974-79 6 four 1712 +139.Zero
5 Miami 1972-74 Three 2 1739 +138.5
6 Dallas 1968-83 16 2 1667 +125.7
7 Oakland/L.A. Raiders 1967-85 19 Three 1654 +115.Three
eight Denver 1996-98 Three 2 1704 +103.9
9 Washington 1982-92 11 Three 1653 +99.1
10 Pittsburgh 2004-11 eight 2 1656 +93.9
11 Inexperienced Bay 1966-68 Three 2 1688 +87.7
12 Inexperienced Bay 1995-15 21 2 1619 +81.7
13 Baltimore 2000-14 15 2 1599 +54.6
14 N.Y. Giants 1985-90 6 2 1627 +54.Three

*The present Patriots’ run might be No. 1 if New England wins Tremendous Bowl LIII.

Imply Elo is the harmonic imply of a group’s seasonal blended Elo scores (which mixes the typical, ultimate and peak Elo in the course of the season) over the span of the seasons in query.

Anticipated Elo is the imply Elo we’d anticipate for a generic Tremendous Bowl contender (from a beginning Elo of 1617) over the span of the seasons in query. Groups are ranked by how a lot they exceeded this expectation.


Amongst stretches of anyplace close to the identical size, the one different dynasty in the identical neighborhood because the Patriots is the San Francisco 49ers’ run in the course of the 1980s and ’90s. Constructed by Invoice Walsh and quarterbacked by Corridor of Famers Joe Montana and Steve Younger, the Niners gained their 5 Tremendous Bowls in a span of 14 years (together with 4 within the 12-year span listed as their most dominant above). That’s two fewer than it took the Patriots to get 5 of their very own from 2001 to 2016. (These 49ers additionally weren’t embroiled in numerous dishonest scandals, however that’s a matter for an additional story.) However the 21st century Pats have additionally visited virtually twice as many Tremendous Bowls as did the Niners (who, granted, gained all 5 they made it to on this stretch). With the prospect to tack on a sixth championship in 18 years, the Patriots would solidify probably the most spectacular stretch of soccer the sport has ever recognized.

New England’s foremost dynasty additionally accommodates a number of GOAT-level mini-dynasties.

As unimaginable because the entirety of the Brady-Belichick period has been, you can too select nearly any subset of it that you really want, and there’s an excellent probability that the Patriots would be the greatest in NFL historical past over that size of seasons. For instance, utilizing the identical mean-Elo strategy as above, the perfect five-season span of the Tremendous Bowl period is the Patriots’ run from 2003 by way of 2007. However additionally they personal a separate, nonoverlapping five-season span from 2013 by means of 2017, which is the third-best such “mini-dynasty” since 1966. Additionally they personal each the perfect and third-best seven-year mini-dynasties, the most effective and fourth-best eight-year mini-dynasties, the most effective and fourth-best nine-year mini-dynasties, and so forth. (You get the image.)

Decide a span of years; the Pats are one (or two) of the most effective

Greatest dynasties of N seasons in the course of the Tremendous Bowl period (since 1966) based mostly on Elo scores over that span

Three-Yr Dynasties 6-Yr Dynasties
Group Seasons Titles Imply Elo Group Seasons Titles Imply Elo
DAL 1992-94 2 1748 SF 1989-94 2 1720
MIA 1972-74 2 1739 NE 2011-16 2 1720
NE 2014-16 2 1728 NE 2003-08 2 1720
SF 1988-90 2 1727 PIT 1974-79 four 1712
PIT 1974-76 2 1725 DAL 1991-96 Three 1694
9-Yr Dynasties 12-Yr Dynasties
Staff Seasons Titles Imply Elo Staff Seasons Titles Imply Elo
NE 2010-18 Three? 1714 NE 2006-17 2 1712
SF 1987-95 Three 1711 SF 1984-95 four 1706
PIT 1972-80 four 1685 DAL 1971-82 2 1671
NE 2001-09 Three 1683 PIT 1972-83 four 1659
DAL 1971-79 2 1676 OAK 1969-80 2 1653
15-Yr Dynasties 18-Yr Dynasties
Group Seasons Titles Imply Elo Group Seasons Titles Imply Elo
NE 2003-17 four 1714 NE 2001-18 6? 1699
SF 1984-98 four 1696 SF 1981-98 5 1681
DAL 1969-83 2 1668 DAL 1966-83 2 1658
OAK 1966-80 2 1653 OAK/LA 1967-84 Three 1655
MIA 1971-85 2 1643 MIA 1970-87 2 1625

Groups wanted at the least two Tremendous Bowl wins in the course of the span of seasons to qualify.


Most nice groups get just one really historic interval of dominance earlier than they start to interrupt aside — notably within the salary-cap period, when expertise turned harder to carry on to and construct round. The Troy Aikman/Emmitt Smith/Michael Irvin Dallas Cowboys, for example, rank as our third-most spectacular general dynasty, however that run finally lasted just a few years: Aikman, Smith and Irvin stayed in Dallas for the remainder of the 1990s, however as they received older, the remainder of the roster wasn’t robust sufficient to compensate, partially as a result of the cap pressured the Cowboys to shed expertise. The Patriots, although, have quite a few nonoverlapping subsections of years that may every be the top of most franchises’ whole histories, they usually’ve executed all of it in an period when the NFL is (theoretically) making an attempt to advertise parity.

And some of the fascinating issues concerning the Patriots’ micro-dynasties is that many have been completed with totally different types of soccer, regardless of the fixed tandem of Belichick and Brady. As my colleague Mike Salfino identified final week, the Pats’ playoff offenses this decade have run the gamut from a few of the least depending on operating backs to a number of the most. It’s a testomony to the chameleon-like method Belichick and employees have been in a position construct their groups that they’ve maintained New England’s run of dominance regardless of always shifting their strategic tendencies.

2018 is perhaps Belichick’s most spectacular teaching job but.

Positive, we’re uninterested in the Patriots’ present “no one believes in us” schtick. However it’s true that this incarnation of the Patriots is relatively underpowered, a minimum of in contrast with earlier variations of the group within the Brady-Belichick period. By no matter measure you need to use to account for New England’s expertise degree — star performances or group power — this workforce seems to be much less spectacular on paper than traditional.

Not solely is that this the worst Pats Tremendous Bowl staff since 2001, in response to our blended Elo dominance metric from above, however New England additionally had its fewest Professional Bowlers (two) and gamers with double-digit Approximate Worth (5) in any of its Tremendous Bowl seasons over that span, and its second-fewest first-team All-Execs (one, Stephon Gilmore). In reality, there have been quite a few Patriot groups that fell in need of the Tremendous Bowl totally that, in response to all the classes above, had extra expertise than the 2018 model. Suspensions (Julian Edelman) and off-field complications (Josh Gordon) definitely performed a task in New England’s decreased star energy, nevertheless it was additionally a roster Belichick needed to cajole extra wins out of than standard.

Regardless, it labored — and it helped the Patriots prolong their historic dynasty. The one factor left is to see whether or not Brady, Belichick and firm can add yet one more ring to their assortment versus the Rams, the opponent it began towards.

Take a look at our newest NFL predictions.